Verklereen grappling with success
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Belle Vernon Area freshman Jarod Verkleeren will look to make a name for himself on the international wrestling stage this summer.
Verkleeren qualified for the FILA Cadet World Championships in Slovakia in July after dominating a stacked 63 kilogram (138.75 pounds) field at the FILA Cadet Freestyle Nationals May 24-25 in Akron, Ohio.
“It's pretty hard to describe,” Verkleeren said. “I can't really put it into words. I came in as the underdog, but I knew I could do it.
“I'm just thankful that my parents supported me. My mom really pushed me to go to the tournament and my dad helped with my training, or I wouldn't have been able to win.”
Verkleeren, who finished third in the WPIAL and qualified for the PIAA tournament at 145 pounds this season, went 9-0 with five technical falls (10 points or more) and a pin against a list of competitors that featured three state champions.
The national tournament drew the best wrestlers born between 1997 and 1999 and was staged under FILA rules and weight classes, which are used in the Olympics and other international events. They differ from those used in United States scholastic wrestling.
FILA is a French acronym for wrestling's international governing body.
“I definitely prefer freestyle,” Verkleeren said. “It's just easier for me. Everything flows easier, and it definitely fits my style of wrestling. But I didn't really understand how big and how tough the tournament would be until my first match, which I almost lost at the end.”
Verkleeren's first match was also his closest; a 4-3 victory over Nate Hagan, a junior and state champion at 132 pounds in Ohio's Division 2. He followed that with a pin and technical falls over opponents from Minnesota, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin to make the finals.
In the sixth round, Verkleeren defeated Penn Trafford freshman and 132-pound Pennsylvania AAA champion Cameron Coy by a 12-1 technical fall.
“We practice together sometimes,” Verkleeren said of Coy. “So we kind of know what the other is going to do. But I knew there was no way he could beat me. I'm bigger than him, but I don't cut weight. For this tournament I cut the weight, and that made a big difference against him.”
In the finals, Verkleeren defeated heavily favored sophomore Austin Kraisser, a Maryland state champion at 145 pounds, 5-1.
“I watched (Pennylvania's) Gavin Teasdale and Spencer Lee go out and dominate their guys in the finals,” Verkleeren said, “and I wanted to do the same and join them on the World Team.”
The FILA World Championships will be July 15 to 20 in Snina, Slovakia, and will draw the best young wrestlers in the world, all of whom won their respective national tournaments.
Verkleeren said he is excited, but doesn't really know what to expect.
“I can't wait,” Verkleeren said. “I'm going to go to some more camps and keep training this summer to prepare for it, but I'm not really sure how its going to go.
“I want to do well, but everybody who is out there is really good and wants to win. But I really just want to go out there and enjoy the experience; it should be a lot of fun. If I do well, that's a bonus.”
Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Powerade wrestling tourney welcomes biggest field ever
- Class AAA Kiski Area wrestling team uses five pins to knock off Class AA power Burrell
- Connellsville wrestling tunes up for duals by routing Thomas Jefferson
- EAIWT an early-season test
- Fox Chapel wrestler Dietz pinning the competition
- Wrestling notebook: Top-ranked Franklin Regional hosts elite duals
- WM wrestling rebuilding after losses to graduation
- Hustle from young team could pay off for Elizabeth Forward wrestling
- New coach ready to lead Norwin wrestling
- High school wrestling preview: Defending PIAA champ Pletcher hopes to carry Latrobe
- Franklin Regional set for loaded Ironman Tournament